A short flight to wonderland

by Kleitia Vaso

Boredom is in the eye of the beholder.

On a Saturday afternoon, while watching a movie I found myself automatically checking my phone, unused as we are by now to do one thing at a time. The film was both beautiful and sufficiently challenging yet I could not help but try and squeeze everything out of a single limited moment, double its fruitfulness artificially. A photograph from an acquaintance caught my eye. I would not have stopped for too long had the photo not had a curious caption which took me away from the movie and onto another trip. Unfortunately, I don’t possess the superhuman ability to fully experience and enjoy two distinct activities at the same time. Perhaps, not even gods can carefully regulate two things or places at once. While Rome is sunny, there are mudslides in Peru. One always loses in the process. Not tragically, in my case, it was the film which merited my full attention.

The photo was that of a moth standing in the hand of the photographer. Apparently the moth had flown into his bathroom and he, happy, displayed the living creature of the wild temporarily trapped within the four cold walls. The photographer generously called it a butterfly which was what diverted me from reality and into my own strange but short journey to wonderland. The detour was inspired by the unmerited title which a less-than-beautiful moth could never obtain unless it was seen inside where such surprising guests are not necessarily expected. There, in the sterile room, the moth does look like a butterfly.

“If he is so happy from a brown moth,” I thought “imagine all the butterflies out there, outside his bathroom. What is it that prevents him from running out and into the fields?” And, then, I thought of someone who chased them throughout his life, the great writer Vladimir Nabokov. “Why did someone like Nabokov spend so much time away from his stories, collecting butterflies?” Farther and farther away from the movie which, actually, had a lot to do with beauty and freedom, a colorless world contrasted with another one, the Zone, imaginary perhaps, but lush with green and saturated with water. The first world made you thirsty and the later one quenched it. From the brown moth to the multi-hued butterfly.

Nabokov. Such an apparently silly pursuit for such a gifted man. To understand him, I followed him holding a net and running over green hills, excitedly searching for the most beautiful, the rarest butterfly. Crossing seas, oceans, simply for the purpose of seeing something not yet seen, something that promises to be more exciting than previous sights. Just to think of all the countries, butterflies, color combinations…the possibilities are dizzying. I briefly imagined the most unlikely colors, heard the most unusual names – emerald, celadon, turquoise, ultramarine, violet, purpureal, meline, primrose, vermillion – simply so as to be able to fathom the unseen possibilities. Imagining seemed so exciting that, for a few moments, I sat there puzzled that I had not considered it as a potential pursuit before. I and everyone else. Perhaps, it does not cross our minds because otherwise we would be running around crazily, leaving behind jobs and families on the hunt for the Monarch or the Peacock butterfly. Imagining it and then traveling, rushing to meet it, waiting for a beauty probably heightened by the limitless mind could very well become the reason for living.

Butterflies made me understand another phenomenon, a recent one in my life. I have always thought that I easily tire of routine and, to a certain extent, it remains true. Only half true as anything self-defining really is. Yet, for the last several months, I never tire of walking to see the same scenery. There is one caveat, however. This same scenery keeps changing. At certain times, it is exactly as I imagine it. At others, I am pleasantly surprised by an unexpected subtle beauty. Some days, I am underwhelmed and the grey elsewhere does not translate to more vivid hues on the shore. Yet, on the best cases, it leaves me speechless or wondering out loud at its beauty, so unsparing in its daring display. These magnificent days, its changeability, keep me returning in hopes of finding a new sight that will surpass all previous ones. So beautiful I hope it is that my heart will stop.

by Kleitia Vaso